GDC 2009: Punch-Out Hands-On

Nostalgia and violence collide in our gloves-on trial of the Wii version of Punch-Out.

If you had an NES, chances are you have fond memories of Punch-Out, the popular boxing game that put you in the boots of diminutive fighter Little Mac as he took on a host of over-the-top opponents (none more so than Mike Tyson in some versions of the game). The Wii reimagining of this classic fighter is only months away from release, and we finally managed to test our skills with a hands-on session today at the Game Developers Conference.

King Hippo is back!

First, those worried that this updated version of Punch-Out would devolve into hectic arm-flailing a la the boxing game in Wii Sports need not be concerned. While you do throw punches by swinging your arms with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, the speed, direction, and number of blows aren't dictated by how quickly or frenetically you wave your arms. In fact, Little Mac will be able to throw only a certain number of punches per second, so you'll have to concentrate on landing the right blows to the right places instead of performing mad, random swings.

Simply punching with the remote and nunchuk will result in body jabs, while pushing up on the nunchuk stick will throw blows to the face. Pushing left or right will make Little Mac dodge in that direction, while pushing down will make him duck. You can also play with just the remote by turning the remote on its side. You use the 1 and 2 buttons for punches and the D pad for movement.

From what we've played of Punch-Out so far, it's sticking remarkably close to the game mechanics that have made the original a much-loved classic. As with the NES version, you'll have to keep a close eye on where your opponent is blocking in order to land hits, and you'll also have to keep an eye on each opponent's specific "tells" before they throw a punch to figure out which way to dodge. Little Mac's heart meter also makes a comeback, as does his special star uppercut. The heart meter goes down every time your opponent blocks a punch or you get hit, and when it reaches zero you'll be unable to throw a punch until you successfully dodge an attack. As for the star uppercut, Little Mac earns these by hitting his opponent at certain times.

Picking the right time to dodge is critical.

Adding even further to the nostalgia is the fact that the NES game's original wacky characters are making a comeback. In our play time, we took on the easy-to-pummel Glass Joe, the militaristic Von Kaiser, and the loose-shorts-wearing King Hippo.

We're pleased to see that Nintendo has forgone that frenetic Wii Boxing route to focus instead on the key gameplay that made Punch-Out great, and we're looking forward to getting some more hands-on time with this game. Check GameSpot for more details on Punch-Out soon.

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Discussion

69 comments
pentawarez
pentawarez

This will definitely soften the blow as I wait for Duke Nukem Forever to come out. I've played through all the Punch Out! games in order over the past month to get ready for this. Rick Bruiser can go suck it.

dareough
dareough

never played the original but this looks cool im definately getting it

mauriandlaw
mauriandlaw

Bear Hugger and Don Flamenco are also in................ i wonder who is left on the rooster.............7 open spots This is my guess in not particulary order.......... 1)Soda Popinsky 2)Piston Honda 3)SuperMachoMan 4)Great Tiger 5)Bald Bull 6)Mr Sandman and i really really hope 7) Pizza Pasta.............if not, Dragon Chan. Also who is going to be the final Boxer ???

84montecarlo
84montecarlo

this game might actually make me buy a wii?

mauriandlaw
mauriandlaw

buying this one on day 1...............i have been waiting FOREVER !!!! I just hope there is a secret circuit after beating the 13 boxers. ( super punch out had 16 )

eilselcire
eilselcire

looks alright, a bit of improvement from the NES original; wonder what that controls will really feel like? will probably get this after it's been out a while and on sale x]

Needoxygen
Needoxygen

sweet. yea im ready for the star noise when i punch stomachs

houtx1836
houtx1836

@djwood84 and einstein_13 Why? Truth is, the Wii is much more capable in graphics than what is usually employed in most titles. Artistic or technical - how ever you'd like to break it down - this title doesn't seem to have the graphics I expected. That's not saying they're bad by any means - just that they didn't live up to what I'd hoped for. Don't get me wrong - I really like the Wii - so do my kids, wife, parents and 90 year old Grandmother. It really is a great family video game console. I remember playing Punch-Out as a kid for countless hours on the real NES - just like many of you. When you're making a follow-up to game like that - developers have to really bring it. I won't go into an a analogy with the new SW prequels... but I digress. This new Punch-Out still looks like fun. I'd just like to see game makers push the Wii to it's potential a lot more.

BLuFAlc0n
BLuFAlc0n

Can you play 2-P in this, coz I'm pretty sure Punch-Out has always been a 1-Player Game?

taddia
taddia

OK, guys. to those keeping saying gfx isn't living up to the expectations, check back the old punch out versions: they were all but impressive on the tecnic side (sound/ graphic). Also, i find the style of this version to be pretty impressive 8). And someone sais wii can't output impressive gfx... I'm sick of repeating myself: it can it surely can, it's just up to the programmers not being lazy... Let's remember the console is at least 3 time more powerful than the old xbox. Reguarding the gameplay, i have to agree all this bunch of options doesn't suffice an high price. It should cost just 20 bucks or so, i would suggest a budget price on this... Either they improve the game modes (Story mode would be nice) or they can forget me buying this ^_^

BLuFAlc0n
BLuFAlc0n

This game should cost around £15-£20. Online Support, DLC and More Characters should do it. Special Move: Shoryuken!

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

It really looks fun. In fact, if it's ONLY HALF the fun the original NES game was it's a must buy!.

leleuxm
leleuxm

As much as I love the original, I am hesitant to pay $50 simply for better graphics on a classic. I will definitely be renting it, however.

cowmaster2k3
cowmaster2k3

Im torn... A new PunchOut is great... But I think I would still rather play the original, or Super Punchout. Hopefully this will sell well and Nintendo will make a true "sprite" sequel on the DS. Super Duper Punchout or something...

japanesegoth
japanesegoth

i can't believe this is the big nintendo game for the year when it's practically a remake of an NES game with a few new features.

crsastre
crsastre

This is a must buy for long time Nintendo fans and new ones as well. If this debuts at $50 a pop, I might wait for it to make its first price drop, but as with all punch-out games, they are tons of fun and even after beating the game, you will still want to pick it up later and give it another try. I am looking forward to this one. I really liked the super nintendo version and was quite surprised at the quality of the game since the original was top notch. What would be sweet is if they still have Tyson as the last fight and his special move was either nibbling on your ear or an early first round "throwing in the towel"! snoogans

Jshaw71
Jshaw71

a great gamne, but it dose need cartoony knock out sequences, hopefully those will be removed, if not, oh well, i will deal i guess...

ganga_
ganga_

this is only a bugdet price buy for me

NND1
NND1

Yes , Yes , Yes bring it on... forget all this serious talk lets have some fun!!!!

Destiny_Hero
Destiny_Hero

Nintendo's doing this for the money. Since the quality of Nintendo's games have drastically declined over the years, partly because they want to "appeal to everyone", I predict that this will be another one of "those game. You know, "those games". The ones that go stale quickly, but not quickly enough that the game reviewers can take time to see the bad side of the game. You see, game reviewers are pressured to get their reviews out quickly. More hype means they should generally work faster. However, with the bulk of Nintendo's games, that's not enough time to see how stale the game really is. Brawl, Galaxy, TP, Metroid, all these games only last long enough for you to tell your friends its great, and that's how Nintendo is staying alive. Bottom line, this will be another game that's fun, but ends all too soon and will appeal only to fanboys. Sad truth, and I hate to see Nintendo be like this. Hopefully, though, they'll change soon.

TheLemonGelati
TheLemonGelati

One of my favorite game from the NES, tough difficulty, interesting character & tons of fun. I remember getting pretty aggravated with some of the fighters heh, I hope it turns out great.

Kaienta
Kaienta

They cannot get Tyson back to the game as he did not renew his licensing with Nintendo to use his likeness. That's why their is a Punch-Out version with Mr. Dream as Nintendo's agreement was never re-newed with Tyson. Also with all his bad publicity I doubt they would renew it lol....WTG Nintendo for bring back a classic!

djwood84
djwood84

Why does Houtx1836 say that? Simple. Lots of gamers don't understand the difference between artistic and technical graphics. No Wii game will EVER have impressive technical graphics... so we'll make do with artistically impressive graphics. Gta4, technically impressive. Okami, artistic.

einstein_13
einstein_13

The graphics look awesome why do you say that, houtx1836?

schu
schu

hate to be a naysayer but it sounds like a step back from super punch out.......not a good thing necessarily

houtx1836
houtx1836

Mechanics sound good - graphics look weaker than expected

blankshore
blankshore

Gamespot really gave this a great hands-on preview! Which means they'll give the end product a 7.5. Just like MadWorld.

texasjgc
texasjgc

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

aikimagicjedi
aikimagicjedi

I hope it'll be as good as the original. and as difficult too!

Neosonic23
Neosonic23

Ya, Multiplayer included, but no Online play, sigh :(

JebranRush
JebranRush

I hope people realize that there IS a multiplayer mode to this game. :P Looking good though.

fudawg45
fudawg45

@Neo Or like how Piston Honda and Don Flamenco just appeared twice anyways. Works for me, I don't mind repeating enemies as long as they present a new challenge the next time around. As for this game, I'm wondering how they're going to make it worth $50. The first two games are great, but they can be finished in a few hours. Maybe some DLC in the form of new opponents?

Neo_Sarevok
Neo_Sarevok

@fester420 Yea a lot of the characters were awesome, like Narcist Prince (my favorite), although I hate how they blatantly used the same characters twice, like Mad Clown/Bear Hugger and Nick Bruiser/Rick Bruiser. Of course, then again, the original Punch-Out kind of did that too by simply swapping the head and the color palette, like Soda Popinski and Super Macho Man.

fester420
fester420

I knew I kept my Wii around for a reason, I can't wait. BTW, Super Punch Out was far superior to the original in terms of gameplay and I hope they bring back the characters from that game as well as brand new ones, I love a new challenge.

DoMiNiC147
DoMiNiC147

This makes me want to get a wii.

Ovirew
Ovirew

Lookin good, I'm impressed. Need to see how first reviews go, though.

GamerKT
GamerKT

There IS a multiplayer mode.

remixbaby44
remixbaby44

how can they not include n e multiplayer modes

jqm1978
jqm1978

bring Tyson back! EA was able to do it.....

Avictory25
Avictory25

@gonzalezj1 That was one of the reasons, but from what I've been told, the real reason was that his contract with Nintendo had expired and they didn't renew it.

Avictory25
Avictory25

I wouldnt mind seeing a reference to the fanmade Punch-Out trailer with "Von Kaiser". "Give em zee uppercut, zee uppercut!"

cajunstrike
cajunstrike

Agreed. The control scheme of Wii Sports was rightfully abandoned for Punch-Out.

Sux138
Sux138

i'm quite disappointed that the mechanis are not 1:1 like wii sports... dodging and hitting up will be dode with the directional... boring! the gestures will have the same effect of pressing a button.... that's not what the wii-mote is for. i will preffer playing it sideways as a nintendo controller

gonzalezj1
gonzalezj1

@Neo_Sarevok Mike Tyson's... "history" wouldn't exactly gel with Punch-Out's family-friendly vibe. That's why he was removed from the original game in the first place. Anyway, Super Punch-Out did pretty darn well without him.

Neo_Sarevok
Neo_Sarevok

They need Mike Tyson in this, period. I don't care how they get him, they need him. The guy will do anything for money - give him a chance Nintendo. Fight Night Round 4 has already confirmed him in their own game, so there should be no reason Nintendo can't include him in there's. What made Punch-Out so memorable was Mike Tyson because he was the perfect climatic fight scene. With Mr. Dream, you never got that impression. If I have to fight Mr. Dream at the end of this, I will be so disappointed. I'd rather fight Nick Bruiser (seriously).